Finance, one of my favorite subjects!! It’s an area that is imperative for dads to understand if not master. Money is not everything but it sure does help. Money fights are the leading cause to divorce. You can spend more time with family if you have a little cash saved up. You can retire without worry if you learn how to handle money. So it is helpful to have an understanding.
Let’s start with the basics otherwise, this would turn into a six-day event.
A budget is telling your money where it is going to go, it is not a record of what happened. A record of what happened is called an expense report.
If you make $3,000 a month. Write $3,000 at the top of a piece of paper or an excel sheet and then start writing down what you will spend that $3,000 on every month. Rank those expenses in order of importance. Rent, food, water and electric all come before video game purchases.
Knowing how much you make and then deciding how much you will let yourself spend is critical if you want to be a good dad. A dad is supposed to take care of his family, while we don’t have to physically hunt, kill, plow, and sow anymore, we do need to bring some dollars in for our family to live on.
My goal in a budget is to have extra money at the end of every single month. The more you can cut back from expenses the more extra cash you will have at the end of the month. When it’s on paper or spreadsheets and you can see where your money is going it becomes so much easier to actually make it happen.
I have not found an app, bank, or program that I like more than a spreadsheet or paper. There are some cool ones out there. I’ve talked to people about a few that they love. My advice is to start old school and then find a program that you like.
So now we have budgeted. It will take a few months to work out the kinks. You and mom are on the same page. Bills are paid. You know how much you are spending. You know how much extra you have every month.
With that extra money, we build our savings account (emergency fund, save for big purchases, or for investments). Start with a small goal of $1,000 dollars in savings. For most people that will be the most, they have ever had in savings! Once you achieve it the goal is to grow it. Make that pile of cash the biggest you can.
Pay off your debts (as long as you plan to not sign up for any more). Prepare for a big purchase like a car, furniture, appliances, school, etc. Start a business or start investing. I always invested in chunks. If your workplace has monthly invested options go for it. I was always self-employed so those options were not available to me. In my world, I would be sitting on cash and deciding what was more important and in what order. Retirement contribution, Business expansion, upgrade the car or house, etc
Reconciling is another huge necessity it seems nobody does anymore. You need to have a record of your deposits and expenses. Then compare these records to your bank account. That way you know everything is correct. If something does not match up you can dig into what happened. This keeps you from getting surprised with a check that gets deposited two years after you wrote it. It also helps you stay on top of those subscriptions you meant to cancel. The amount of friends I have that don’t reconcile blows my mind and the scary part is they don’t even think it’s important! A good dad knows where his money is and where it is going.
Don’t borrow money. Don’t stretch out purchases into payment. No loans, no credit cards, no car payments, no payments on anything. I don’t even make payments on insurance. I pay annually and get a discount for doing so. It’s been one of the best things I ever did financially. Because having no payments allowed me to stack cash. Everyone is stuck making payments everywhere and they have no cash. It’s backwards.
If you want to get ahead financially you will stop signing yourself up for payments. Payments are a drain on budgets. If you don’t have payments you could save up the cash and actually buy the things you want outright.
Instead of getting a $300-a-month car payment for three years, pay yourself $300 a month for two years and go buy yourself a car with cash.
You get a better deal when paying cash.
You don’t spend as much money, because when it’s about payments you’ll buy yourself a $20,000 car with 10% premium factoring interest. When it’s about the cash you don’t want to part with $20,000 so you are happy to settle for the $10,000 car and get a 10% discount for paying cash.
If you have been struggling with finances, once you get to a cash mentality your whole outlook will change. When you have been living paycheck to paycheck for years and finally build up to $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000. The reality is you’re going to want to hang onto that cash. It feels good to have it. It makes you feel successful and warm and toasty inside. So instead of buying all the stuff you used to buy, you just prefer to see the big bank account and not have the stuff!
Now, once you get to a healthier lifestyle there are arguments to be made that financing and payments enable you to keep more money invested and thereby make yourself money. Instead of unplugging money from investments and buying something big for cash.
There is some sense to that and it has worked well for some. I won’t do it and if the economy tanks for a couple of years I’ll be fine and those people will be struggling. It is also important to note that most people living their life with everything on payments don’t have investments. They are not unplugging from a hot stock market to buy a sofa.
I’m bullish on investing for a couple of reasons. First, because it gets the money out of your bank and into something that actually makes you money. Second, because this is the goal. To build a life where you can live off the interest from your investments.
Invest in yourself. Get an education that is practical. I’d rather you read 30 self-help books than get some of these crap degrees big-name universities are offering. Start a business if you have the personality for it. The returns on small businesses are phenomenal. It just takes a lot of work.
I like being the bank. I loan money to investors. Short-term mortgages to people buying, building, flipping real estate. These are real mortgages. Tax stamp, Deed, filed. If the investor does not pay, we foreclose. So, making sure there is significant collateral is important.
We have a financial advisor that handles all our stocks, ETFs, MF’s, and Security backed Notes. I have played with a few things on my own. I never enjoy the roller coaster ride. We map out our philosophy and she gets discretion in the day-to-day. Things just need to grow, and her fee can’t be too insane.
Buying income-producing real estate has always been a solid move long term. There are certainly cycles that get people in trouble. I’ll advise while debt can be beneficial here it can get dangerous real quick.
Crypto and NFTs may be the future but I don’t know squat about them. I’m not hating on them I just don’t know enough about them.
Dads when it comes down to it you just need to know what is going on. Closing your eyes to it is never a good solution. Get on the same page with mom. Sit down and figure out what you have and how to make it work.